Women in future shorter, fatter, but healthier: Study
According to a recent research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal, human beings are still in the process of evolution, and women especially are evolving towards losing height, and gaining a little more weight. They will also have more children and for longer.
This basically means that they will begin to menopause late in life, thereby increasing their reproductive age. Also, they will have better lower cholesterol levels, and a healthier heart. Problems such as high cholesterol and high blood pressure plague a large number of women around menopause.
Humans are still evolving
The study conducted in Yale University claims that human beings are still evolving.
Due to discoveries in the field of medical sciences and human welfare, many believe that natural selection is no longer workable with human species, and evolution is a thing of the past. But according to Professor Stephen Stearns, the evolutionary biologist at Yale University who is heading the study, "That's just plain false."
According to him, survival till one's reproductive age might not be a challenge for humans anymore due to medical advancements, but other evolutionary processes like sexual selection and reproductive fitness are still underway.
To support his evolutionary perspective, Prof Stearns also added that inherited traits like height and weight of a woman can still determine how many children she has, and for how long.
If the trends that have been found in this study continue for the next 10 generations, an average woman in 2049 AD will be two centimeters shorter and one kilogram heavier than she is now. Her first pregnancy will be 5 months earlier, and the menopause will get delayed by 10 months.
The study and the findings
The study involved observation of 2,238 medical histories from Framingham Heart Study in Massachusetts since 1948, of middle aged and elder women who had had their menopause. There were records of their weight, height, cholesterol, and blood pressure. They saw that the traits were related to the number of children they had.
The environmental factors like, education, health, and income were kept constant, and the relation still existed. Shorter and heavier women gave birth to more children and for a longer period of time than their taller, and thinner counterparts.
Another factor affecting the size of families was low cholesterol, and low blood pressure, along with women who had their first kid at a very young age, and menopaused late. All of them had larger families.
This was not all; these women’s daughters were also more likely to have more children due to passing on of genes.
Prof Stearns said, "It's interesting that the underlying biological framework is still detectable beneath the culture."